Since returning to Manchester following my year abroad (which I spent in Saint Petersburg, Russia), I have been constantly applying for jobs to no avail. At first I was optimistic, assuming my work experience from before my year abroad, and the life experience gained by spending 9 months in Russia, would be enough to secure me some kind of job. As the weeks passed, and more and more of my applications went unnoticed, I decided to try and gain some experience for my CV through volunteering.
After a quick Google search along the lines of “volunteering in Manchester”, I found out about a charity called WRVS (Women’s Royal Voluntary Service – but they do take male volunteers too!) which runs coffee shops and tea trolley services in hospitals all around the UK. Thinking this would be great first-hand customer service experience in an interesting environment, I applied online and heard from them within a matter of days. Not only was this a great confidence boost after so much rejection, I also felt good that I would be spending my spare time helping people rather than sitting around lamenting my dream job. I arranged an informal interview with the WRVS branch at the Manchester Royal Infirmary, filled out the full application form and got my two references, and within a couple of weeks I had a volunteer job.
I have now been working at WRVS once a week for almost 2 months, and I can safely say it’s the best job I’ve ever had. My fellow volunteers are all very talkative and friendly, the customers are polite, and I now know how to use a coffee machine, despite hating coffee myself. Though the job is unpaid, it feels great to offer my spare time to a charity that really needs the help, whilst meeting plenty of lovely people in the process. As we are mostly volunteers, the shifts are extremely flexible and are perfect for students. I am still applying for paid jobs as I could do with the money, but I enjoy this job so much I would continue to do it alongside a paid job (and the heaps of work I have to do in fourth year!) – my only regret is not thinking to volunteer sooner!
Though this post has simply been about my story with WRVS, I hope it will inspire other students to put their spare time to use and gain experience for their CV through volunteering, especially if they have been unsuccessful in finding a paid part-time job in the past.
Some useful links on volunteering:
Naomi Powell – Student Blogger